Possible methods to combat debilitating shyness, social phobias and anxieties, and conquer the fear of social situations.
Many people who are not shy have no idea how debilitating this condition can actually be. A recent study revealed that shy people usually have difficulties getting and keeping jobs, continuing education, and forming personal relationships. Others often view them as “aloof” or “snobbish,” when nothing could be further from the truth.
People who are shy have a problem connecting with other people. Some may even feel as though others don’t really want to converse with them. They may feel awkward in conversation, and may even be so hesitant to deal with other people that talking to a bank teller or a grocery clerk is at the very limit of their endurance.
The thing that holds many shy people back from anything they want is inner dialogue—what they tell themselves when no one is listening. They tell themselves things like “I’m sure that girl wouldn't be interested in me,” or “I’m not good enough for that job.”
Few people exist without the fear of rejection in some form or another. Some of the most egocentric people you may know have strong fears they deal with in a different way, such as by throwing themselves out there by saying “ain’t I great?” But this is a smoke screen. Behind the mask of many such individuals is a lonely, frightened, insecure child. Fear of rejection is very normal. The difference is how you learn to deal with it.
One of the key points about learning to deal with rejection of any kind is learning this simple fact. “It doesn’t matter.” Because it doesn’t. For every person who rejects you for any reason, there are many that won’t. Each person is an individual and will receive you in their own way. This is particularly telling when dealing with the opposite sex. Shyness is very nearly crippling in these circumstances. Many beautiful women go without dates simply because NO ONE is willing to ask them out.
The trick is to learn how to change that inner dialogue. One of the methods that can work is by creating mantras or catchphrases that mean something specific to you. Or borrowing them from somewhere else. There is a sales slogan that actually has some bearing here. “Fake it ‘til you make it.” In other words, if you don’t feel confident, pretend you are anyway. Eventually you will find that you no longer have to pretend. Not in all situations, perhaps, but you will discover that you’re more at ease than you ever expected to be in many circumstances which once paralyzed you. I’m not just talking out of my hat here. I am writing this article because I’ve been through it. I suffered from terrible shyness that over time progressed to nearly the level of a social phobia. If I didn’t know someone, I wanted nothing to do with them.
Then after a particularly bad break-up I took a look around me and realized that being afraid wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I forced myself to step out, to do things that scared the heck out of me. I did telemarketing for a little while. I wasn’t particularly good at it, but it made me come out of my shell a little. Then, a while down the road, I tried direct sales. Okay, I joined a company in which I was expected to walk up to people on the street, or walk into a place of business, and try to sell them men’s and lady’s fragrances. I was terribly bad at it, yes. But I was acting more confident. I certainly didn’t feel more confident. Not then. But I was doing it.
Now people remark that I seem to have no confidence problem at all. I feel at ease in situations that once terrified me. What I finally realized is that there is nothing to be afraid of. Everyone else is as nervous as I was. I think we're all faking it at least a little bit. Once you realize that, you have a chance to combat your shyness and win.